Northridge Tabbed Third in Big West Preseason Media Poll

Oct. 29, 2009

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IRVINE, Calif. - Two-time defending Big West champion Cal State Northridge earned 130 points as was picked to finish third behind Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara by a 24-member media panel Thursday.

The Matadors, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, will return nine lettermen and three starters from a 2008-09 team that chalked up a 17-14 overall record, a first place finish (11-5) in the Big West Conference and a tournament title. The starters include forward Kenny Daniels (8.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg), forward/center Willie Galick (9.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and guard Mark Hill (8.2 ppg, 2.9 apg).

Northridge opens the 2009-2010 campaign against Cal Lutheran next Wednesday, Nov. 4 as the Matadors play the first of two exhibition games. Northridge then hosts The Master's College on Saturday, Nov. 7. Both games are slated for a 7:05 p.m. tip-off.

The Matadors open the regular season against Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana on Nov. 13 (7:05 p.m., ct). The Boilermakers are ranked seventh in the preseason USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Top 25 college basketball coaches' poll.

Complete Release courtesy of the Big West Conference

A media panel tabbed Long Beach State as the favorite to win the 2009-10 Big West men's basketball championship and selected six players to the preseason all-conference team.

Long Beach State received 17 first-place votes from the 24-member voting panel for a total of 209 points. The 49ers return four starters and eight letterwinners from the 2008-09 squad that finished 15-15 overall and 10-6 in Big West games, tying for second in the final conference standings. Head coach Dan Monson welcomes back three members of last season's Big West All-Freshman Team - Larry Anderson, Casper Ware and T.J. Robinson. The trio combined for 44 percent of LBSU's offense. Anderson, who averaged 10.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, became only the second freshman in Big West history to be named first team all-conference. Robinson and senior guard Stephan Gilling also received all-conference accolades in the form of honorable mention selections.

UC Santa Barbara claimed six first-place votes and 178 points to nab second in the poll. The Gauchos welcome back junior Justin Joyner, a two-year starter at point guard who redshirted last season with a wrist injury, to combine with three other returning starters and nine letterwinners. In addition, heralded transfer Orlando Johnson is set to make his Gaucho debut after sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules. Johnson starred at Loyola Marymount in 2007-08, setting the Loyola Marymount freshman record for points (383) and points per game (12.4), while also the leading the team in rebounding. UCSB also returns its top returning scorer in James Powell (9.0 ppg), who enters his senior season as the Big West active career scoring leader with 910 points.

Earning 130 points for third place was Cal State Northridge. The Matadors have either won outright or earned a share of the league title the last two seasons, and represented the Big West in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. CSUN lost five of its top six scorers from a year ago, but brings back three starters led by top returning scorer Willie Galick (9.3 ppg).

UC Riverside set a school Division I record with 17 wins in 2008-09 and made an eight-win improvement from the previous season. The Highlanders were picked to finish fourth in this year's league race with 127 points. UCR features junior Kyle Austin, an All-Big West First Team choice who averaged 16.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

The recipient of the remaining first-place vote was Pacific. The Tigers came in fifth place with 126 points. Pacific, which has won at least 20 games in five of the last six seasons, brings back 2008-09 Big West Defensive Player of the Year Joe Ford.

Rounding out the media poll was UC Davis in sixth place with 114 points, followed by Cal State Fullerton (90), UC Irvine (76) and Cal Poly (30).

The media selected a six-player preseason all-conference team comprised of three sophomores and three juniors. The six honorees included Larry Anderson (Long Beach State), Kyle Austin (UC Riverside), Orlando Johnson (UC Santa Barbara), Eric Wise (UC Irvine) and Joe Harden and Mark Payne of UC Davis. Anderson and Austin are 2008-09 first team all-conference performers. Harden, Payne and Wise all earned All-Big West Second Team selections last year.